Making a short film, “A Short Film”

Ok, so we are home once again. By being home, I don’t really mean that I am in my hometown, but that I made a short film, titled “A Short Film”, about making a short film. I am not a big fan of Meta film making. But I made one. The idea of making this one is derived from 2 factors, one, I want to make films, but I can’t, two, no body takes it seriously. And in all words written of truth, I soulfully admit, at times, even I don’t. It’s more of a short term attention seeking through a shortcut thing. I am not really sure if I am a film maker, I should be a film maker, I could be a film maker, it’s just that I want to be one. Reasons are as simple as they are vague. And somehow I couldn’t stay away from my camera. And that’s a Sony HDR XR150. Its a gift from my parents, who thought I might find it useful when I made “Love Derailed” on 10 mpx point and shoot digital cams worth 10,000 Rs. in 2010 and that was third year . It gives me a full HD 1080p output, that’s quite good, hopefully, despite the fact its dynamic range is quite low, and its got pretty deep DOF  which eschews a standard film look, but I love it, and I love my parents for letting me have it. It’s kind of that Super 8 camera for me, about which big film makers today brag about playing with, when they were young. Maybe if I become a big film maker in the future I am going to brag about my XR150. :P

So there I was, over a year and a half out of college, switched jobs, minus a lot of films (both watching, and making). Something always kept me bugging, making my own film. And I asked myself, what do I like to see in my own films, and quite honestly, I see the making of my films, and what comes before and after it. So I thought I can make this, all I need is 2 rooms, and 5 people. And when you have done B.Tech in Chennai, you always have friends happy to oblige, and I am utmost thankful to them, all of them, for this is possible because they were ready to run around for me and nobody theses days stands out unconditionally for your craziness, that possibly won’t pay off, ever.

I, once in a fit of emotions declared if I don’t make another short this year, by the end of this year I am going to get married and settle down. Obviously, that’s not going to happen now. So making this film was not as stressful as my previous ones. Precisely because I got people quickly to help me out and to some extent I knew it I can pull it off easily. Also because, as I write I remember what Priyadarshee told me (he, along with Rahul Sharma joined me in starting the team called 360 Degrees in college when we made our college’s first short film “Love Derailed”), in the worst possible situation I am going to end up with a very poor short film. And that’s no big deal, most of the times we’ve ended up with poor films (this is my 4th as a director, at-least 10th in which I have participated, directly or indirectly. Scales of the films notwithstanding). And it’s going to take at-least half a dozen more films before we produce a decent enough film.  So the burden of delivering was quite off me, before I started. And it was all about the first step, the script. Rest of the film just happened, as if falling in place automatically.

And this script came out of another short film I was planning earlier. I was writing a film called “Incomplete” and I thought who’s going to see this? Even if I pull it off, first thing that is going to haunt me is sound. We have always sucked at that, and when we make films with dialogue… sound is all we have and we have no solution, not even now, and that was quite some time back so I left it aside and forgot about it. So I had to take the distorted dialogue as a part of the process, as if we can’t avoid it. And then write the film, so after a point when I just couldn’t see my camcorder in its wallet, I opened my unfinished stories. I opened “Incomplete” as I read it, I knew that to do justice to it, I need logistical support, that I don’t have and I won’t be able to pull it off, considering the participants’ insensitive approach and I don’t blame them. They do it for a friend, they do me a favour. They just can’t take it seriously, and as I said before, at times, even I can’t. So reading that one page (the only page) of the story “Incomplete” it triggered another idea. Of a short film that’s about the making of “Incomplete”, which in turn is a short film, and instead of even visualizing what problems one could face, rather have the problems as such.  But then again, that idea seemed way too boring to me, so I thought let’s not have a structure or a plot at all, let it be not about anything specific but a couple of things and let it be vague. Thus I ended up with 3 lines to this film, one the short film scene, two the introspective director of the short film, three the making of the short film. And of course, get it done with the messed up sound. I am still receiving comments for that one. I think sound department needs more dedication, both, physically and monetarily… and I think the latter of those I am not going to devote and going to end up with films with messed up sound. Another issue with sound is, I own a mic, but then most of the people who worked with me on this film are students and they have their tests starting this Monday. Also, I can’t really bug them again and again to miss sleeping on those lazy weekends and come to my house for recording dialogue. They are students alright. Certainly, I have to have some empathy towards them!

Shooting this film was quite easy for me, and honestly, struggle we face that we have shown in this film was certainly different from what happened actually. The first thing that troubled me with this film was camera’s Hard disk, it crashed. So I had already asked Vinayak to bring his camera (he plays the main role too). I used his camera for the rest of the day and in the evening bought 4 memory cards, 16 gig each. Next day, the whole crew reached my house. We started shooting, and we had to finish because all couldn’t come back the following week because they are still studying. There were no multiple takes. But shooting wasn’t stressful, nobody was complaining, yet, discussion related to food was inevitable, and it was fun. The toughest part, as always, in any film I have learnt is cutting it, now that I tried to give it a film look, I graded it and rendering it drove me nuts. It took me good 9 hours to render it (and that was the 4th attempt, 3 earlier one’s failed). And yes it is a 9 minute film, indeed.

So I end up with a film that sounds bad, looks ok, feels fine and is just tolerable. Most of the guys are not even going to watch it, many won’t completely, few of them will and yet they are going to tell me it’s a good one just for sole reason of being a friend. Few of them may find meanings that don’t exist; few of them won’t find anything at all. I am not going to say I am an artist or a future Martin Scorsese, but yes, I made A Short Film, without any financial investment, without any set up, without any discipline. I end up with a film, I don’t know how well or not it has turned out to be, because I can’t see it dispassionately. I can hear those lines in the film that you can’t because of the bad sound (PS: I Have added Subtitles). I don’t know where or how the future is, for now, all I can see is, I have made a film and you have to decide. So please watch this film, and let me know what you think about it.

It is a short film about making a short film titled “A Short Film”.

I am also attaching below a poster I made for the film, a clip in which I am explaining the sequence to my friends, and the complete short film.

 The Making Clip

And the short film “A Short Film”


By: Salil Shankar
Posted: March 3, 2013, 12:09 pm


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